Monday, April 05, 2004

Labor Studies in the Curriculum.

Labor Studies in the Curriculum. This article shows why it is important to remember and teach the history of labor in classrooms.

From the site:

The field of labor studies is often overlooked or underemphasized in the curricula of elementary and secondary schools. Coverage tends to be spotty and disjointed, isolated information in a curriculum that stresses "more important" topics. Most students, however, will spend much of their lives as workers. They need to know the contributions of labor in the building of the nation and its economic system. Furthermore, examination of the history of labor in the United States helps students to understand current events. In this decade, for example, strikes at PATCO, Hormel in Minnesota, Anaconda in Arizona, and Eastern Airlines have made newspaper headlines. These events are understandable only as elements in the history of working people in the United States.

This ERIC Digest examines (1) major themes of labor studies, (2) inclusion of these themes in the curriculum, (3) likely positive outcomes of labor studies in the curriculum, and (4) available resources for teachers and students.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR THEMES OF LABOR STUDIES? In most United States history textbooks, labor unions and workers are treated superficially. Usually certain events are mentioned in the rise of organized labor (e.g., the Homestead, Pennsylvania strike of 1892 against Carnegie Steel; the Pullman Strike in Chicago in 1894; the Ludlow, Colorado massacre of strikers by militia in the Rockefeller-owned coal mines in 1914). These historical events can be expanded upon to include labor conditions that led to the rise of unions.

The influence of immigration in the rise of unions should be emphasized since many of the newly-arrived immigrants came from countries in Europe with a high-degree of craft/guild involvement. Stories of the contributions to the labor movement of various immigrant groups can enrich and enliven the history curriculum.

No comments: